OP-ED: Mourning the loss of a friend

Published 7:44 am Wednesday, January 20, 2021

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Dawn Burleigh,
General Manager/Editor

Stop spreading the lie that COVID is a political ploy. The election came and went and the virus is still here.
It claimed the life of another person this weekend. As a church was readying for Sunday class, word was received of the passing of Grace Smith.
Ms. Grace was a person with a winning smile but even more so, a person we all aspire to become. She had a kind word for everyone she saw and when she said “I love you.” You knew she meant it.
She surprised me a few years ago when she saw me at church, introduced herself and recalled me by name when she saw me again on another Sunday. She and my mom became friends before Mom passed. Ms. Grace always asked how I was doing with each new milestone passed.
And her letters! There is nothing like receiving a card from Ms. Grace! They were always unexpected yet were perfect timing. I found several of them in my desk this past week as I was cleaning out a drawer to reorganize it.
In 1998, for her 90th birthday, I wrote the following about her:
“Grace Smith is also celebrating a milestone birthday this year. Grace, a woman who is always smiling, has turned 90.
Grace, who enjoys attending JOY Club with her church once a month, runs circles around most of the younger generation. JOY stands for Just Older Youth.
“I don’t let this get in my way,” Grace has said many times about her walker.
And she does not.
Ms. Grace, as she is known at her church, is an asset to our community and an inspiration to others. She will check on those who are ill and their caregivers as well.
She is the first to notice when someone is absent and will ask about them.
Ms. Grace, there are few individuals such as you. I count myself fortunate to know you. I hope your birthday was as beautiful as your smile.
Thank you for being someone others look up to and hope to be more like one day.”
Those words are just as true then as they are today as the world loses another inspiring individual.
In the Bible, grace is defined as an undeserved favor or gift; the undeserved forgiveness, kindness and mercy that God gives us.
Ms. Grace truly lived up to her name. She is an undeserved gift to our lives and will be greatly missed.

Dawn Burleigh is general manager and editor of The Orange Leader. She can be reached at dawn.burleigh@orangeleader.com